The 5-5-5 Challenge: A Story Of Persecution In Bahrain

September 6, 2013 by Open Doors in ,

Bahrain In general, this mainly Shia-Islamic country is comparatively tolerant. This is also the case in terms of religious freedom, because of its international position in banking and trade. There are several Christian bookshops and Christian hospitals. A considerable number of expatriate Christians work and live in Bahrain and are relatively free to practice their faith in private places of worship, but proselytizing Muslims is illegal. As the number of compounds is limited, dozens of congregations must use the same building. They are not allowed to advertise their services in Arabic but they can in English. After the King’s visit to the Vatican, he allocated a plot of land to the Catholic Church in Awali in 2011 to build a compound which also includes a place of worship and administrative offices. It would become the Gulf’s largest Catholic Church and the Vatican’s headquarters of the region. Observers explain this move as a PR campaign to appease the West amidst the government’s violent crackdown on internal political turmoil. Within the country and region however, the church construction project led to considerable negative media attention: there were calls to destroy all church compounds in the region. Part of the negative reaction was related to Shiite frustration as a result of the destruction and lack of funding of Shia mosques, though there was a clear anti-Christian element as well. Most of the protests came from the hardline Sunni camp: more than 70 clerics signed a petition stating that it is prohibited to build churches in the Arabian Peninsula the birthplace of Islam. The building project has been stalled as a result and it is unclear if it will be restarted. This underlines the increasing influence and self-confidence of hardline Sunni groups who are a major support base for the monarchy in a time when Shiites demand more and more political rights. Bahrain infographic Learn More & Pray For Bahrain

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